Artists sing about office furniture. Part 3 – Arctic Monkeys

Artists sing about office furniture. Part 3 – Arctic Monkeys

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Something for the weekend. Or at least something for those of you who might be moving office this weekend. The Arctic Monkeys sing not only about office furniture, but create the great rock anthem for the facilities manager – not to mention all those who on Monday will arrive into their offices following this weekend’s refurbishment or office relocation to find things are not quite as they once were or they wanted them to be. This is a topic we will return to in detail in Monday following this week’s Clerkenwell Design Week, which amongst other things saw the inaugural event of the BIFM Workplace Special Interest Group, of which great things are expected.

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Guidance on designing in accessibility for disabled workers

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Diversity in the workplace

The government launches a campaign today using TV celebrities and disabled groups to help promote positive role models for disabled people. It’s aimed at building on the latest stats that show 81 per cent of people thought the Paralympics had a positive impact on the way disabled people are perceived. Currently they’re not well represented in the workplace, as according to DTI figures half of all disabled people are unable to find work. This is why the Equality Act 2010 plays such a vital role in promoting diversity in the workplace. Put into practice, understanding and adhering to the Equality Act 2010 requires employers to take positive action to remove certain disadvantages to disabled people posed by working practices and the physical features of premises. More →

Flexible working boosts employee satisfaction and lowers business costs

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Working while commuting is on the increase survey finds

May 2013 played host to Work Wise Week, an initiative from Work Wise UK that aimed to promote and encourage smarter working practices to the benefit of businesses and employees. Cultural, economic and social changes are affecting attitudes to how we balance work and personal lives, and increasingly, mobility and technology is shifting away the need for the traditional 9-5 work patterns, replacing it with more flexible working practices. There are many benefits of flexible working and, as such, we are seeing more businesses starting to understand that forcing employees to work in an office does not guarantee productivity. More →

Office hierarchy determines ergonomic quality of workplace

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Office hierarchy determines quality of workplace ergonomics on offer

When you consider health and safety dangers at work, there is really no contest between the risks blue collar workers face – falls from height, heavy lifting and breathing in asbestos dust – compared to the relatively minor mishaps of the average office worker. But it seems there is no such thing as an ‘average’ office worker either and where you fit in the pecking order could have a direct impact on the level and quality of the ergonomic tools you’re offered. According to a worldwide survey published by Jabra and YouGov there is a great demographic divide when it comes to the ergonomic equipment provided within the office – and your level of education and department play a significant role in how well you are seated and whether you are offered a headset or handset. More →

Artists sing about office furniture. Part 2 – My Chemical Romance

Artists sing about office furniture. Part 2 – My Chemical Romance

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Roger Carr writes: I always like “Furniture music” by Bill Nelson’s Red Noise – but upon listening to it again it could be domestic furniture too. But “Cubicles” by “My Chemical Romance” is surely about the lonely disassociated world of the (unrequited) love sick office cubicle dweller.It’s a tough listen after Harry Nilsson’s desk related joy and his close personal relationship with either a lump of wood or God depending on your point of view, but the MCR track might possibly help to explain the rush to escape the cubicle.

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Artists sing about office furniture. Part 1 – Harry Nilsson

Artists sing about office furniture. Part 1 – Harry Nilsson

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Given the complete and utter failure of the world’s artists to draw inspiration from office furniture, this is likely to be the shortest series we’ve ever run. It will start and end here. I’d love to be proved wrong but there cannot be many artists prepared to use something as mundane as a desk to express their feelings about the lack of solidity in their lives. In this case the desk can be interpreted as God or – well – a desk. Nilsson was no sap of course. He was one of the most commercially successful artists of his era without extensive touring and counted amongst his drinking buddies both John Lennon and Keith Moon.

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CBRE WorkShop concept is interesting, but is it workable?

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workshop_logo

I’d like to deal in this article with the arrival yesterday of the long-awaited white paper from CBRE’s thought leadership exercise, The CBRE Workshop. However, I should declare an interest for the sake of transparency. Until June 2012 I was employed by CBRE and reported directly to a couple of the people who are heavily involved in The Workshop idea. I would reassure readers that I am not a disgruntled former employee. I have a huge amount of respect and warm regard towards my erstwhile colleagues and nobody will be happier than me to see them do well.

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HS2 – still a train that symbolises the clash of old and new ways of working

HS2 – still a train that symbolises the clash of old and new ways of working

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We’ve said this before but given the recent round of agonising over HS2 and today’s news that it will already cost £10 bn more than planned, there is no end yet to us hearing more and more about the plans for the Government’s flagship construction project and all-round Keynesian boot in the pants for the UK economy. Most of what passes for debate involves some light class warfare about the route through Tory constituencies, seasoned with a dash of NIMBYism, some chest beating from Labour who started the whole thing but can’t be seen to support it fully and various other bits of pointless to-ing and fro-ing. But what is most remarkable about the scheme as far as we are concerned, has always been how its business case completely and deliberately ignores the way we now work. Something bleedin’ obvious that the NAO has now pointed out.

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Will the Great Trade Association Merger have any impact on office design?

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Ceci n'est pas un bureauAnybody who has been working in and around the facilities management sector for any length of time will know that the FM profession/discipline (delete as appropriate) regularly undergoes protracted periods of existential angst about its role. It strikes me however that this is actually quite an easy question to deal with because the answer is the same as it is for similarly amorphous professions such as marketing. It all seems to depend on who you are and what you are trying to do. That’s the twist. The average facilities manager, like the Urban Spaceman, doesn’t exist. I might think that but it won’t stop the associations and institutes currently working together to establish a new super-body for FM in the UK having to continue the debate.

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How ingrained assumptions about the workplace are eroding

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Ad agency RKCR  © Jefferson Smith

Ad agency RKCR © Jefferson Smith

The first day at a new job used to mean getting the answer to that all important question: “so which is my office?”  In today’s mostly open plan environments, the same psychological attachment has been transferred to the desk – ‘my’ desk. However the current trend for flexible approaches to where people work means that even the concept of having one’s own desk is now under attack. So how much does having your own desk matter to the UK office workforce these days? We have been asking employees how they feel about having their own desk. The results seem to be that more than half, on average 56% (of a total of 2,653 employees surveyed at 5 recent client projects), think that it is ‘very important’ and a further 25% think it is ‘quite important’.

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Green Office Week kicks off with a focus on individual behaviour

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elephant-in-the-roomThis week is Green Office Week. Obviously it’s corporate sponsored, self-designated and arbitrarily timed with all the ways that leaves it open to criticism. It also offers pretty standard advice for the most part and many people and organisations will be well aware of it.  What is interesting is that so much of the advice is about individual behaviour, across the daily themed topics. In some ways this is a welcome reminder that the solution to environmental issues is as much about personal behaviour and management as it is  technology. The answer to needlessly burning lights should be somebody remembering to turn them off, rather than a movement sensor. Or it should be both. In practice, people don’t meet their own stated commitments to the environment and there are some pretty good reasons for this.

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The biggest challenge is building flexibility into an office design

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Flexible pencilThe design of offices and the furniture that fills them matters because of what they tell us about how we work, how organisations function and even what is happening in the economy. If you want to know what’s going on, take a look at the places we work and the things with which we surround ourselves and how they change over time. Because the way we work changes so quickly, buildings need to have flexibility built into them so that they meet our needs today but anticipate what we will need tomorrow.In his book How Buildings Learn, Stewart Brand outlines the process whereby buildings evolve over time to meet the changing needs of their occupants.

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